Writer: Warner Brown
Director & Choreographer: Craig Revel Horwood
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts
Like many musicals, Son of a Preacher Man is a story about love. The plot follows Alison (Michelle Long), Kat (Alice Barlow) and Paul (Michael Howe) as they search for answers surrounding their unrequited loves. Although the three characters are from three different generations, the unlikely trio joins forces to hunt down ‘The Preacher Man’ record shop in Soho and ‘The Preacher Man’ himself, who ran it in the sixties. Something of an agony uncle for the music-loving youth of the era, The Preacher Man gained a reputation for the advice he bestowed. So much so, that his reputation has been passed down generations.
The youngest of the three, Kat was told of the wonder of The Preacher Man when she lived with her Grandmother. Teacher Alison, by her Mother and Paul, was actually there, in the swinging sixties, in the middle of it all. Each one now seeks out his expertise. Kat for advice on a man she matched with on the internet that she can’t stop thinking about. Recent widow Alison to clarify some confusing feelings she’s been experiencing for someone inappropriate, and Paul to track down his teenage crush from the record shop days.
The three characters find their way to Soho and to the shop, only to discover that it’s no longer The Preacher Man but a coffee shop and that The Preacher Man himself is a long time gone. All they find are three enthusiastic waitresses (the Cappuccino Sisters), and Simon (Nigel Richards), the son of The Preacher Man. Initially reluctant to help the three strangers, Simon eventually agrees to try and channel his Dad and help fix their problems. But is he up to the job?
Written by internationally renowned playwright Warner Brown and directed and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood. The cast dance and sing their way through Dusty Springfield’s greatest hits. With routines that vary from hilarious to heartfelt, and utilise many different styles and elements of dance. The routines are fast and fun and elevated by the ensemble cast who bring each number to life with rowdy live music from the stage.
The only thing letting the production down is the story. The plot is convoluted, due partly to the fact that it seems little effort has been put into disguising the shoehorning of Springfield songs throughout. Some of the dialogue feels clunky and elements of the show don’t quite follow through. The character of Alison falls behind after act one and never really has a chance to be developed. With all the characters conclusions feeling rushed.
However, the outstanding cast and direction is a triumph, and it is a credit to them how hugely entertaining the show is. Equal parts weird and wonderful, Son of a Preacher Man is a truly joyous experience.
Runs until 27 January 2018 | Image: Contributed